National is focused on putting victims at the heart of the criminal justice system.
In opposition, National had to stand back and watch as – time and time again – victims were left high and dry by a system that seemed to put the offender first, leaving victims to deal with the effects of crime without enough support.
That’s why National introduced a $50 Offender Levy on all convicted offenders.
The levy was expected to collect $13.6 million for victims in its first four years. That’s been increased to $15.9 million after $3 million was collected in its first 10 months, almost $1 million more than expected.
That’s allowed us to introduce – on 1 July – 5 new grants and entitlements for victims and their families. The new services include:
• Expanding the financial assistance available to victims for court hearings to other justice-related meetings.
• Financial help for families whose loved one is killed through dangerous driving or careless firearm use.
• A court attendance allowance for sexual violence victims.
• An emergency grant for economically disadvantaged victims who need assistance but have no income to pay for it.
The new entitlements take the total number of services funded by the Offender Levy to 13.
A new Victims Centre began operating on 1 July. This one-stop shop will oversee government-funded services and support for victims. The Centre will develop and implement a new Victims Code to help victims understand their rights, the services available to them, and the complaints process.
We’ll also introduce a Victims of Crime Reform Bill later this year. This will allow victims to say more in their Victim Impact Statements and be kept better informed through the Victim Notification System.
We know we can’t take away the pain of victims’ loss or injury, but we can help smooth the way. Our court system should make sure victims aren’t caused more pain.
National was elected was to improve the justice system and address the impact of crime on victims. The successful offender levy, 13 new services for victims, the Victims Centre, and the Victims of Crime Reform Bill will go a long way to putting victims at the heart of the justice system.